I have never read a good word about this film in any movie guide, which frankly baffles me. I think it's a masterpiece, and despite Hardy being one of my favourite authors, I think this is actually better than the novel. It also contains two absolutely perfect moments. But first some general comments. The photography is gorgeous, actually looking more realistic than idyllic, beautiful but sometimes cold and forboding, brooding over the tragic proceedings. Secondly, the remarkable soundtrack by Richard Rodney Bennett lends the movie a good deal of its emotiveness. The use of English folk songs to comment on the proceedings is ingenious, sometimes impressively reflective of the situations, and at points extremely unsettling.Julie Christie is beautiful and I found her Bathsheba the precise mixture of headstrong independence and vulnerability. Terence Stamp's repulsive Troy is a triumph of casting and Alan Bates is wonderful as the simpliest of her suitors. The film is stolen for me though by Peter Finch, who begins a hat trick of devastating performances, here, in The Trials of Oscar Wilde and Sunday Bloody Sunday. His Boldwood is a remarkable creation, so eligible, so tragic, so lost and helpless. His scene with Bathsheba when she suggests Christmas to be a time when she will make a decision on their future is heartbreaking. "Christmas," he smiles. "I'm happier now." But the scene that should surely secure this movie a place in film history is that in the graveyard. Without spoling the plot for those who have yet to see it, the gargoyle spewing rainwater over the graves as the sound of "The Bold Grenadier" plays is as affecting an image as one is ever likely to see on screen. The Boldwood plot has a darker outcome here than in the book, which I'm sure Hardy would have approved of. This is a beautiful and disturbing movie that does not shy away from Hardy's bleak view of existence, and adds to the mix a strong sense of gritty 60s honesty. Beautiful, devastating and unforgettable.
I have watched this film many tens of times and never tire of its beauty. Each viewing has me finding it even more beautiful than on the previous occasion it may seem slow to first-time viewers but they should make the effort to watch the thing a few more times !!!This film is without any doubt that which perfectly renders the atmosphere of Thomas Hardy's Wessex ! The careful filming, lighting and attention to the changing moods of the Dorset countryside is absolutely PERFECT, and the music is perfectly suited to the atmosphere ! This Film has just been issued on DVD in the UK but I was very disappointed to find that little or no remastering of the picture had been carried out and that, although the picture quality is reasonable for the time, I had been expecting the full treatment for a work of art such as this to get rid of remaining compression artefacts, spots, grain etc.! Also there are no subtitles for the deaf, and no subtitles or languages for foreign viewers (inadmissible !!) nor special features which you would expect for such a great work of art as this. Other films of Thomas Hardy country, such as Tess and others, pale into insignificance beside this one though it must be said that Tess, although taking place in Dorset was actually filmed in Normandy ( Cherbourg Peninsula) which would explain why the atmosphere wasn't the same.Each scene of this film has remained indelible in my mind, the sheep being pushed over the cliff by the mad sheepdog, the corn market ( actually filmed in Devizes, Wiltshire ), the water flowing down Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset where poor young Fanny Robbins painfully seeking to mount during her last few hours on earth, the cock-fight, the beautiful views of the Dorset Coast with Durdle Door and the chalk cliffs, the romantic dalliance of Troy and Bathsheba doubtlessly filmed in one of those prehistoric burial mounds so common in Wiltshire. Truly, 'tis one of the most beautiful areas on earth. When I was at university in Bath, Avon, U.K. during the seventies, I made a point of visiting the Thomas Hardy country, and in particular the sites used in this film, as it was not too far away. I found a sense of timelessness there and the area has to be visited to 'feel' the atmosphere that the film exudes !Above and beyond the magnificent sets and music, we have the actors' performance, which I seem to appreciate even more on each successive viewing of the film. Each character is very well developed and the performances are masterly even those of the minor characters. There is also a significant number of traditional songs of the day which are sung most convincingly by the actors. There is something quintessentially English about this film not to be found anywhere else, for this reason alone it should not be missed. I can only hope that one it will be remastered for picture and soundtrack and will then be truly appreciated on a home cinema.
Like another reviewer, I'm continuously amazed at detractors to this fine adaptation of Thomas Hardy's strongest novel. The reviewer who whines about it being "boring" should tune into a good TV sit-com and let the good cinema go-- it will always be "boring." Those reviewers, and there are several, who read Hardy can appreciate this fine film which builds on directly on Hardy's novel. One reviewer noted that Hardy "...gets into the heads of his characters..." Quite true, but unless you're goofy like the Coen Brothers or Terry Gilliam, you can't always do that in the cinema. So, Schlesinger does the next best thing in developing the characters with an excellent cast including Christie, Finch, Stamp and Bates. This is an excellent film and captures much of the rural English lifeways that Hardy wrote about in this and Tess of the D'Ubervilles, Return of the Native and others. Check it out.
What a treat to see an adaption of this marvellous but hard going book, of course it's always worth the effort to read Hardy, but it takes getting into, you have to be in the right mind frame, so dramatisations of his wonderfully rich characters are always wonderful to watch, and open up his work to a wider audience I should imagine.This film in particular was pretty true to the script, if a little condensed, in places. I felt Alan Bates was just fantastic on screen, but probably had the right amount of charm and screen magnetism for the box office, but a little too much to be a true Farmer Oak as described by Hardy, what women in her right mind would ever turn him down,being so sweet and looking like that, I must watch more of his films.Everyone else was just brilliant as well, and it was lovely to see the beautiful Dorset I visit often so on the big screen and note it really hasn't changed that much at all since the filming in the 60's.An excellent film, don't miss it !!!
This is a brilliant film from beginning to end and Julie Christie delivers one of the great female performances in movies. She is enchanting and utterly charming dominating every scene she's in because she is just so incredibly beautiful. Her three male co-stars, however, shine just as well and it's difficult to say which one is the best because they are all so good. It's the director, of course, who is responsible for creating this incredible ensemble of acting and John Schlesinger is one of the great directors who reigns at the peak of his field. But ultimately the film belongs to Julie Christie who is in virtually every scene. The promise she showed in Darling for which she won the Oscar is more than demonstrated here where she is so great she can only be compared with Garbo, Hepburn, Crawford or Davis. I am a Julie Christie fan forever.
"Far from the Madding Crowd" is one of a handful of elegantly produced, intelligent wide screen masterpieces which have sadly been neglected by those responsible for DVD. Fortunately, by early in 2009, Warner Brothers finally released it on a handsomely remastered standard DVD edition. There is no news of a Blu Ray version. It is richly scenic in an unusually stark, atmospheric way. Its cast is made up of some of the finest actors working at the time it was made. All of them handle their parts in this well-written, literate script, extremely well. Peter Finch, who seldom turned in a weak performance, is a standout in this film.The great works of literary giants like Thomas Hardy invariably inspire strong opinions about film adaptations. It is no surprise to me that some reviewers were very critical of Far From the Madding Crowd, based on their feelings that it distorted aspects of the original novel. Despite such interpretive choices, or modifications as may be at play in this dramatization, the rewards of its many great strengths, in my opinion, make it a glorious viewing experience. If you are a home theater buff with the technology needed to view this film on a fairly large screen, you will delight in its evocative wide screen splendor. It draws you into the very unique environment that was always so important in Thomas Hardy's writing. I am thrilled that such thoughtful epics as "Tess" and "Lord Jim" are all, at last, available in DVD release. "Far from the Madding Crowd" and David Lean's "Ryan's Daughter" are among those long awaited widescreen home entertainment selections which constitute the sublime highlights of any film library. They are visual masterpieces that cry out to be seen in such a high-resolution format as the DVD provides.
In this sprawling adaptation of the Hardy novel, a beautiful woman in 19th century English countryside must select a suitor among three men. It has become fashionable to bash this film but it is quite an impressive production. Although she may not be exactly what Hardy had in mind, Christie is radiant as the heroine. The men pursuing her are well played by Finch as a rich landowner, Stamp as a cad, and especially Bates as a poor sheep farmer. Schlesinger's direction is leisurely and meticulous but he sustains interest despite the nearly three-hour length. The cinematography by Roeg is breathtaking and Bennett's score adds a haunting quality to the film.
For many the casting of sixties beauty Julie Christie as the vulnerable heartbreaker Bathsheba Everdene was erroneous, but Christie does a fine job, and makes the role her own. Schlesinger remains faithful to the romantic spirit of Hardy, drenching the magnificent cinematography in the exquisite pastoral music of Richard Rodney Bennett, who clearly wrote under the influence of Vaughan Williams and Delius, while interpreting the story for the cinema very much in his own way. The film is long; but craftmanlike, and characterised by superb performances, with Peter Finch as the tormented Boldwood, and Alan Bates as Gabriel, who is the moral force within the story, particularly excellent. The film's climax is one of the most hauntingly poignant in sixties cinema.I like to see it as an oblique commentary on the essentially tragical (and doomed) nature of selfish or sensual or possessive love; and the innate nobility of the marriage state buttressed by genuine mutual respect, with Gabriel as the agent of reason and decency amid so much unbridled passionateness....
I first saw this movie in 1968 when I was 14 as an assignment for school. The other day I saw it again late one Saturday night on my local PBS station. I remembered how entranced I was in the mood and the music, and that was still the same now. The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe as best picture(drama) and it won for best score.But after living for 30 years I really see it as a great story about the relationship choices we make in life. It really made me reflect on my own choices in life.The main character is played by Julie Christy age 26, who is the owner of a sheep farm in England. She is very beautiful and more than one man is in love with her. I won't say which man she marries but even after the movie was over I felt perplexed as to any one right outcome. That we all make choices at different times in our lives and sometimes the reasons are the same and sometimes they are different. Sometimes we make emotional choices and sometimes intellectual ones. But they are all choices we have to live with.
If you are wanting fast action and thrills then this film is not for you, however, if you enjoy a good drama with a haunting score then look no further. Bathsheba Everdine (Christie)has three suitors in the form of the dashing Troy(Stamp) the dependable Oak (Bates) and the brooding/obsessed Boldwood (Finch). The story revolves around her relationship with each of these three men with rural Victorian England as the backdrop. I particularly enjoyed Terrence Stamp's performance as Sergeant Troy whose real love is Fanny Robbin and not Bathsheba. Richard Rodney Bennett creates a lovely haunting soundtrack which conjures up the English countryside. A smashing film!!